All children are primed to engage with and enjoy science from an early age. Yet young emergent multilingual learners from low-income communities are faced with a “science opportunity gap” before they enter kindergarten. In addition, their teachers often lack the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to support science experiences that incorporate the language learning supports that young emergent multilingual learners need to explore science.
Building on LASErS, EDC is addressing this challenge through Supporting Science Inquiry, Interest, and STEM Thinking for Young Dual Language Learners (SISTEM), a powerful home-school-community partnership that fuels children’s science and language learning across multiple settings. The project is also enriching the quality and quantity of science and language learning environments for young emergent multilingual learners, building their confidence in doing and learning science and introducing them to a variety of STEM career options.
EDC and the Connecticut Science Center (CSC), in collaboration with a Hartford-area school district, are carrying out the following activities:
- Develop and deliver an immersive two-day professional learning experience that builds pre-K teachers’ capacity to facilitate language-rich classroom science explorations
- Provide teachers and families with accessible instructional materials, resources, and ongoing supports to narrow opportunity gaps for young emergent multilingual learners
- Engage families and teachers in collaborative workshops that align children’s home and school science experiences
- Foster interest in informal science experiences by using CSC’s resources, as well as publicly available Peep and the Big Wide World educator and family resources
- Provide ongoing opportunities for teachers to connect, share, and reflect on their science teaching through an online professional learning community
- Create Play Lab experiences for families with space, resources, and culturally responsive facilitation for supporting their children’s science inquiry and language
- Launch a STEM Community Helpers program and recruit STEM role models in the community who reflect the cultures and ethnicities of children and families
- Convene “I love science” capstone events at the CSC, bringing together all stakeholders to share, learn, and have fun while engaging in community STEM learning
- The combined home-school-community science experiences will promote the science inquiry, interests, and thinking of 450 young emergent multilingual learners
- The Inquiry Institute for teachers will build the capacity of 60 pre-K teachers of emergent multilingual learners to facilitate high-quality, language-enriched science explorations
- The program will engage 450 families in supporting their children’s science inquiry and thinking at home, at school, and in the community.
Connecticut Science Center, Consolidated School District of New Britain